Kailub Russell will seek to retain his GNCC XC1 National Championship with a win at the season-opening GNCC round in Palatka, Florida, this weekend.
The battle for the AMSOIL Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) championship presented by Maxxis, one of the most prestigious off-road championships in American motorcycle racing, kicks off Sunday at the Rodman Plantation in Palatka, Florida, where defending series champion Kailub Russell hopes to begin a drive to his fourth consecutive GNCC title.
The FMF KTM Factory-backed Russell, who underwent surgery for a for a torn ACL suffered at the 2015 International Six Days Enduro, rode through the pain of that injury to clinch his third career GNCC title before the end of the season in 13-round series in 2015. Russell expects to face a strong challenge from several competitors, including 2015 ISDE individual champion Ryan Sipes and former GNCC XC2 champion Grant Baylor. The Coastal Racing/Rockstar/Husqvarna-backed Sipes finished sixth in last year’s title chase, but he scored several podium finishes last year. N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha’s Baylor, the 2014 XC2 Pro Lites Champion, enters the season after finishing second in his XC1 rookie season last year, and he is expected to be in the hunt right from the start.
And there are other strong contenders to watch: JCR Honda/Lucas Oil/Maxxis/Fly Racing’s Chris Bach will be looking to improve upon last season’s fourth-place season finish. Bach scored his first career GNCC win at the 2015 Tomahawk GNCC, and he returns for 2016 with the same program. Rocky Mountain ATV-MC/KR4/FAR Racing Husqvarna-backed Thad Duvall also started the 2015 season off strong but struggled with mechanical issues at the last few rounds. Duvall will run his earned number of five in honor of his father instead of his signature number 989. FMF KTM Factory Racing’s Charlie Mullins will also return after a difficult season in which he suffered a double wrist injury. Mullins is fully healed and ready to make another run for the GNCC title.
Jason Thomas, the 2015 XC2 Pro Lites Champion will move up the ranks to the XC1 Pro class, and that leaves the XC2 title race wide open. JCR Honda/Lucas Oil/Maxxis/FLY Racing’s Trevor Bollinger will have his eyes set on taking home the championship after his strong finish at last year’s season finale where he took home a win in the XC2 division. Bollinger has spent the off-season getting adjusted to his new JCR/Honda team, and his rival, N-Fab/AmPro Yamaha-backed Nick Davis, has been doing the same.
Unique to this event, GNCC offers a practice session for all bike racers on Saturday before the event. The cost is $20 per rider. The practice course will be separate from the race course, but it will incorporate a small preview of what racers can expect when the green flag drops on race day. On Saturday, Youth Bike practice will begin at noon, followed by a 1 – 4 p.m. practice session for all other Bike racers, including 10 a.m. classes and 1 p.m. classes. Sunday’s race schedule is as follows: Youth Bike racing begins at 8 a.m., followed by amateurs and women at 10 a.m. and pros and top amateurs at 1 p.m.
Adult (12+) gate admission is $20 for the full weekend and $10 for kids (6-11), with kids five and under free. Gate admission includes pro pit access and pro autographs at no additional charge.
For more information on the series, visit the official website at www.gnccracing.com.